Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Regrettably, work that used to be done by IATSE members (and covered by the IATSE Basic Agreement) is now done by visual effects workers working non-union. Effects used to be done by Special Effects Technicians like powder/explosives members of the prop union. Story boards were done by members of the Art Directors union. Space ships that were built by model makers (props), now are done with computer graphics. It could be argued that this work still is covered by the IATSE Basic Agreement. Studios have ferociously resisted this, and now argue that an "industry practice" exists demonstrating this work is non-union. And, of course, most of it is done by sub-contractors who never were union signatories in the first place. What to do???
Well, for those of you working for the major studios, merely signing an IATSE authorization card will trigger a negotiation under the terms of the Studio (AMPTP) Basic Agreement for wages and working conditions. The Industry Pension Plan and Health and Welfare Plans are a given; they'll apply with no questions asked. And the IATSE and its West Coast Studio Locals will be there to support you in those negotiations. For those working for the "subcontractors", the process is much cloudier and the results far less certain. But the end goal is the same, for this work to become imbedded into the culture of Hollywood and the community of IATSE members who continue to enjoy the protection of a Union umbrella. We need to turn attrition into cooperation.